Obesity is a disorder in which the affected person weighs more than the ideal weight and it predisposes a person to a variety of health complications such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and stoke. However its association with Atrial fibrillation is not established.
Andrew Foy, assistant professor of medicine, Penn State College of Medicine, and colleagues conducted a study to evaluate the impact of obesity on heart health. The researchers found out that obese people are more susceptible to development of irregular and rapid heart rate, called atrial fibrillation. The study has been published in the journal American Journal of Cardiology.
Researchers followed a large group of participants, equally divided between people with obesity and without, for eight years. They found that people with obesity had a 40 percent higher chance of developing atrial fibrillation than people without obesity.
“If you have both atrial fibrillation and obesity, treating obesity will go a long way in treating and managing your atrial fibrillation,” Foy said. “And if you have obesity, and lose weight through diet, exercise, or even surgery, that will help reduce your risk of developing chronic conditions like atrial fibrillation.”
While previous research has linked obesity and atrial fibrillation, Foy said he wanted to explore the connection in a larger sample of younger patients. He and the other researchers followed a group of 67,278 patients — half with obesity and half without — for eight years. The average participant age was 43.8 and nearly 77 percent were women.
After analyzing the data, the researchers found that while 1.8 percent of the patients without obesity developed atrial fibrillation, 2.7 percent of the patients with obesity developed the condition.
They also found that people with obesity are almost just as likely to develop atrial fibrillation as people with hypertension or diabetes. According to the study, people with obesity are 40 percent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation, while they are 45 percent and 51 percent more likely to develop hypertension or diabetes, respectively.
Foy said the association could possibly be explained by the stress and strain put on the heart by obesity.
“When the heart is strained, it can lead to changes in the atrium — the top chambers of the heart — and it’s here where we believe structural abnormalities can precipitate atrial fibrillation,” Foy said. “Patients with obesity tend to have more fibrosis, higher pressures and more fatty infiltration in the top chamber of their hearts, so atrial fibrillation could be related to these types of changes.”
Dr. Gerald Naccarelli, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Cardiology, Penn State College of Medicine, said the results — published in the American Journal of Cardiology — could help physicians better evaluate and communicate with their patients.
“Practitioners should counsel their obese patients to look for symptoms of atrial fibrillation, such as palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness and encourage them to lose weight,” Naccarelli said. “In addition, practitioners have to look for other risk factors that are more common in obese patients such as diabetes, hypertension or coronary artery disease.”
Foy said the study also underscores the importance of treating obesity in patients regardless of whether they’ve developed complications.
“We have lots of interventions aimed at treating hypertension, but we don’t really have the same when it comes to obesity,” Foy said. “We know that obesity is a problem, but we need to be as serious about the management, prevention and treatment of the obesity crisis as we are about conditions like hypertension and diabetes.”
For more details click on the link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amjcard.2018.01.019